Differences Between PM2.5 and PM10

Any discussion regarding the devastating effects of air pollution keeps throwing the terms like PM2.5 or PM10. PM is an abbreviated form of the “Particulate Matter”. Our understanding of air pollution revolves mainly around particulate matter pollution.

As per AQLI (Air Quality Life Index) reports, particulate matter is considered the most deadly form of air pollution and present the greatest threat to the health of humans globally. PM2.5 and PM 10 are microscopic particles present in the surrounding air and pose severe health risks if inhaled.

Let’s study the difference between PM2.5 and PM10 and how these affect our health.

Particulate Matter

Particulate matter or particle air pollution comprises a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets present in the air. This complex mixture includes soot, rubber, smoke, dust, metals, sulphates, nitrates, etc.

These microscopic particles are so small that one needs an electron microscope to detect them. Both PM2.5 and PM10 are immensely hazardous for human health. They spread more because of fossil fuel combustion, construction activities, dust, etc.

PM particles do not include gaseous air pollutants like ozone and NO2.

PM10 Particulate Matter

PM10 particulate matter comprises particles that have a diameter of 10 micrometres. These fine particles are also known as respirable particulate matter. If the quantity of PM10 is 100 microgram cubic meter in the air, then it is considered safe for breathing.

PM10 particles include dust, pollen, moulds, and other particles that are less than 10 micrometres in diameter.

PM2.5 Particulate Matter

PM2.5 particulate matter comprises fine particles that have a diameter of fewer than 2.5 micrometres. These particles are so small that these measure up to 3% of the diameter of human hair. The PM2.5 particles are smaller than PM10 particles.

Due to their very small size, PM2.5 particles can only be detected by using the electron microscope. However, if the quantity of PM10 is 60 microgram cubic meter in the air, then it is considered safe for breathing.

PM2.5 particles include combustion particles, metals, organic compounds, and other particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter. The high level of PM2.5 in the air increases the mist or fog during winter and affects visibility.

Adverse Health Effects of PM2.5 and PM10

Due to their microscopic size, both PM2.5 and PM10 particles are breathed in and enter the bloodstream after penetrating the lungs. Therefore, these particles cause severe health complications like lung diseases, cancer, stroke, heart attack, cognitive impairment, etc.

The common health problems related to PM2.5 and PM10 air pollution include difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, tightness in the chest, irritation in the eyes, throat, nose, and other respiratory diseases.


We all need air to breathe, and if the air is polluted with particulate matter, it leads to devastating consequences on our health. Exposure to toxic air is likely to affect the elderly and kids severely. Another high-risk category comprises individuals with heart and lung issues.

As per AQLI reports, the longer-term exposure to particulate matter pollution reduces life expectancy by many months to few years. Both PM2.5 and PM10 particulate particles are dangerous. Among them, PM2.5 particles are more lethal due to their smaller size.

We have a long way ahead to curb the menace of air pollution, and reducing the levels of PM2.5 and PM10 particulate matter in the air is the emergent need of the hour.

Megha Kothari

Megha leads the content strategy and oversees an amazing team of writers, editors, and designers, all having one goal in mind – to create brilliant content that helps people make the right purchase investment. When she is not working, you can find her enjoying making delicious food and planning her next travel.

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